Sep 16 AT 8:13 PM Dima Aryeh 41 Comments

Google buys Bump, may be planning for a future with no NFC

Bump for Android

Android has an easy method of local file and info sharing, and that’s Android Beam. Using NFC, you can transfer small bits of info like links and contacts to other NFC-enabled phones. Plus, you can send photos and other large media via a connection started by NFC. Most Android phones these days have NFC, but the technology hasn’t really caught on outside of the Android world. Worse, it’s not very popular among those who do have it.

Strangely, Apple hasn’t adopted NFC for themselves. I always thought that as soon as Apple adopts NFC, use and adoption will skyrocket. However, Apple is focusing on wireless data transfer, like their new AirDrop, which works without any physical contact. While Google is still putting work into NFC technology, the acquisition of Bump may be their attempt to plan for the future: a future without NFC.

Yes, NFC has a chance of dying out. Not many use it, and everyone is creating different ways to share data. Even Motorola, an Android manufacturer, created DroidZap to wirelessly share photos with those around you. It makes me worry for NFC, which is not really gaining any traction.

On the other hand, a few uses of NFC are irreplaceable. For example, one of my favorite uses of NFC is pairing a device to a speaker. Instead of going through the cumbersome steps of turning on Bluetooth and hoping it automatically connects (Bluetooth is finicky at times), just a tap will do it. The same goes for file transfers, when emailing takes far too many steps and a simple tap will send a photo.

Plus, the safety of a precise tap over bumping or having an open communication standard like AirDrop is undeniable. A properly aimed NFC tap is hard to master, so it’d be very difficult to do so without the other person noticing. It’s a brilliant technology, and I can’t imagine why it isn’t being used more.

Google’s acquisition of Bump could merely be a backup plan, for integration and NFC-free way of using Android Beam on smartphones. Bump works by bumping two smartphones together, which simply uploads the data to the cloud and allows it to be downloaded on the second device. Maybe Google will get it to be cross platform too, if it’s feeling generous enough. Luckily, Bump will continue working until then. Would you give it a shot?

Via: Droid-Life

Source: Bump

Dima Aryeh is obsessed with all things car and tech. His time is split between gaming and fixing his racecar. He also does photography in his spare time.

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  • Graham Steffaniak

    Android beam will just be activated via bump or NFC.

    • steven

      Agree, i have an iphone 5 and use passbook all the time, nobody uses this nfc crap

      • Jimmy_Jo

        Bump isn’t very good. I stopped using it over 2 years ago and look at people kind of weird when they still do since there are better options. NFC is a great feature but people don’t know about it or how to use it.

        If Apple used NFC everyone would use it not only because of advertising but also because they would be showing it off in stores and on TV. That’s just how it works with Apple til more people realize how far behind they are. I think 2014 is when they finally take a back seat.

        • David

          Agree. I know I’m in the minority, but I use it all the time to transfer pictures. Look at picture, join phones physically and tap the picture.

          It even tells you to tap in order to share. Granted, Not everyone has Beam yet, but it works fine and easily imho.

          At least that has been my experience.

      • RogueC99

        You’re a bit of an idiot aren’t you Steven…

  • ihatefanboys

    Apple adopting it does not guarantee any more success, it needs to be advertised more, something Google is decidedly bad at.

    • Christopher Perkins

      Ironically thats where it WOULD succeed w/ apple. They would do the work to advertise it…. :/

      • donger

        Very true.

  • Xallies

    The reason why NFC didn’t gain traction is cuz the damn thing doesn’t work. It rarely does and it’s not system wide. The files it wont transfer aren’t specified so we are left staring at both our phones wondering what the hell is going on. After letting our powers combine and tapping the screen we are greeted with a buzz and a whole lot of nothing. The whole damn experience is disastrous. I was gun hoe about the damn thing till i noticed it leaves me hanging every time I want to show how cool it is. NFC don’t be that guy. Get your shit fixed.

    • sandwich

      “Gung-ho”, not “gun hoe”. :)

      • Xallies

        Thanks I always figured that gun has commitment problems

        • Xallies


    • ZRod

      My opinion on NFC is that it doesn’t work because it isn’t utilized properly. NFC is meant for simple tasks to save time. i.e. – Payments, unlocking anything, mass transit, etc.
      Adoption is low on both ends (i.e. – few phones, few payment terminals) so neither party sees a benefit unfortunately.

      • Xallies

        NFC needs to make some serious deals with the Elevator companies, transport authorities and shit while they are at it the Government so that we don’t need to carry around our keys, wallets, and all that shit that can be replaced, but before they become the saving grace its implementation on the software that adopt it need to be spot on.

  • alan123

    Though you can’t fully replace NFC right now but still a great start by Google to post an alternative of NFC.

  • Rising33

    I totally agree with the article in respects to the security of NFC. That peace of mind doesnt come too often in the high tech gadgety world of smartphones. Better hardware for better connectivity can be achieved just like every other piece of hardware on a smartphone + like one of the comments ( ADVERTISEMENT!!!! ) I use NFC often and granted a few bumps here and there but for the most part enjoyable and worry free haha no one steeling my pics or info, it goes right to where it should etc…. I dont think NFC will die out per say ( fingers crossed )…

    • steven

      NSA planted a backdoor in NFC (NSA Field Communication)

  • KC

    NFC is here to stay. Bump can’t replace NFC.

    If it’s just files transfer, there are plenty of ways of doing it wirelessly. Like BlueTooth, it’s spread over a broad range, subjected to usual security risks and for all to tap. With NFC, it’s more localised and controlled.

    Give me NFC anytime.

  • donger

    NFC ftw.

    • steven

      AFC is better

  • jlcaloca

    they will probably release an Android Beam stand alone app like they have with their Keyboard app, but this will allow it to work with other devices that don;t have NFC or even for to be able to be available for the Iphone to compete with AirDrop.

    • mvndaai

      Beam isn’t an app, you just put your phones together and it works. You can send files, web pages, share apps and a lot more. Making it have an app shell would make it completely useless.

  • Sameer

    But i love KFC :D, Actually Technology’s Future is decide by its uses

  • Pravas

    Lets see where it goes, never fancied about NFC.. So this should be the next thing.

  • faun

    Maybe it’s to support devices that are too cheap to include NFC?

  • anon

    You know this sentence in the very last paragraph, it should have been in the very first paragraph.

    “Bump works by bumping two smartphones together, which simply uploads the data to the cloud and allows it to be downloaded on the second device.”

  • fade

    The problem with NFC is that it doesn’t have a real killer use case. All the applications so far like file transfers, mobile payments and establishing connections with other devices are great, but they’re things that make peoples lives a little bit easier, rather than creating any significant change. Security is a good plus point for NFC when it comes to file transfers, but its not enough to drive wide adoption of it seeing as a lot of consumers will only care about being able to make the transfer, rather than how secure it is, and the drive for the extra security wouldn’t be enough on its own for a company like apple to adopt it over their own options.

    If someone were able to develop a real killer use for NFC; something that touching two devices together makes complete sense for as a physical interaction, as well a streamlining the users workflow significantly then theres a much greater chance of it becoming ubiquitous. But this would have to be something thats likely to be used a significant amount in daily life to have real impact, more so than the current applications for it we’ve seen. If this doesn’t happen soon then the technology may well fall to the wayside.

    • yankeesusa

      To me being able to securely pay at stores without carrying my wallet is enough to warrant nfc. I wish more stores took payments. Then I would only carry my id and 1 credit card for emergencies.

  • LukeT32

    I love using Google Wallet to pay at stores…. The only time I ever use NFC. Until recently I was the only person I knew who had NFC. The Gnex helped make it more wide spread, but it wasn’t until the most recent generation of phones that it is commonly built in.

    • Jimmy_Jo

      When I was on Sprint I had Google Wallet and I LOVED IT!!!! I think Google Wallet is part of the reason NFC is NOT taking off… The carriers have been fighting Google Wallet, tooth and nail, since day one. Now they want to come out with ISIS or whatever so they can do their own thing. If Google Wallet would have been able to become a standard for NFC payments like PayPal is for online payments, then I think NFC as a whole would be better off. Most people have NFC but they’re like “OK, what do I do now?” And as was mentioned there are so many misfires with Android Beam. That’s why Apple doesn’t see a need to adopt it. It’s a feature that’s barely used.

      But look at the pontential:
      -Mobile payments (Google Wallet)
      -Contact Card transfer
      -File transfer
      -Initiate Profiles (turn on Wifi and turn up notification volume at home; Turn volume to vibrate in the office etc)
      -Initiate connection with Bluetooth and WiFi Direct devices

      The potential is there but it’s not being handled correctly, right now

      • yankeesusa

        I know exactly what you mean. I use my phone at cvs,mcdnlds,best buy and over 90% of gas stations. Only reason I don’t switch to tmobile is because I love using my google wallet. I really hope nfc payments aren’t taken away. I really hope google does something to let all android phones use it and offer an incentive to companies to accept nfc payments. It just might be that google doesn’t see nfc payments as prosperous.

  • magnum80

    For me the benefit of NFC are tags. Although I must admit I have not used NFC tags, yet. Making the phone micro-location aware is unique to NFC as far as I know it.

    Imagine all car manufacturers would equip their new cars with a compartment where you can rest your smartphone. Thanks to an embedded NFC tag your phone knows, that it’s in your car and how to behave (turn on BT, switch to car mode, etc.). If the phone leaves the proximity of that tag it switches back to default. If that compartment is equipped with Qi wireless charging the phone has a perfect place to rest.

    Curious what the future holds for NFC.

  • yankeesusa

    Sorry but with bump payments at nfc terminals won’t be possible unless you have nfc. Its also secure. But bump may work both with nfc and google drive or something similar. I hope nfc is here to stay. I pay with my phone every chance I get. Every store that has nfc payments i do it. The other day i forgot my wallet and was able to pay with my phone.

  • yankeesusa

    Google just hasn’t advertised it. If they somehow came out with a commercial that showed the benefits of nfc payments, like showing the ease of it and explaining the security feature like if you loose your phone it can be deactivated remotely then maybe people will catch on. But with att,verizon and tmobile blocking it and google not doing anything about it it is not looking good for nfc payments.

  • mvndaai

    Maybe in the next few months when ISIS is released outside of Utah and Texas, the carriers will advertise it enough for people to use it.

    I live in Utah and have the app. It is very poorly made, but they have coupons where I can get a free Jamba Juice and $1 combo at JCW and other super slick deals, which keep me trying it at new places. Also I enjoy paying for my groceries with my phone.

  • domi1k

    Tried bump today with 2 Galaxy S4 -> sucked big time, plus limit of 20 mb file
    Use S Beam with my colleagues all the time and we send files over 4GB!!!
    Love NFC btw

  • Mike

    I have yet to use NFC once on my Galaxy Note II. I *WON’T* use Google Wallet, ISIS, or any other wireless system because all wireless systems to date have been broken with embarrassing ease–not to mention the thought of keeping my CC# inside my device sends shivers up my spine; I’m leery enough of using the the bank app to deposit my paycheck, and even then I immediately force-stop and wipe it when finished.

    Outside of security concerns, I don’t see a compelling reason to use NFC. I have never once had BT act “finicky” on me, and–thanks to the stupid decision to use MTP instead of real USB storage–find it the easiest way to transfer small numbers of files; large numbers I’d probably use Wi-Fi to a server. FWIW, I have yet to once use the IrDA port on my laptop, either.

  • adriean

    Seems kinda stupid because NFC has every chance to succeed but even thought android may be in the lead by the number of activated phones or apps in the apps store, it looks more likely that they are followers, why? simple,if apple uses NFC they will boost that area, if apple does not they will do whatever the heck apple does. it’s sad but it’s true. what get’s me even more mad if the fact that other companies do the same. for example in terms of graphic speed, up until the new “iPhone 4 with a finger print sensor” apple has being using the PowerVR 5 which itself is a couple of years old about 2/3. how in this earth manufactures keep releasing new graphic cards that are not even close to the performance of a 2/3 years of card? nvidia keeps bragging about their 72 core gpu which is build-in on their new tablet or console i don’t know but that thing itself is also irrelevant for people who does not own a nvidia graphic card, all of them need to step their game.